This is the first of a 5-part series on BRANDING. We have just launched a branding project for a new client. The Marketing Twins at 1429 Creative recently conducted a marketing coaching clinic for another group who had only done branding, but needed something more. So “branding” has been on our minds and we wanted to share a little of it with you.
A simplistic examination of the comprehensive MARKETING strategy might include two parts. For ease, we’ll say “it’s as simple as A-B-C.” Actually we’ll move the order around and say MARKETING is composed of these essentials:
B – Branding
CA – Customer Action
Branding can be defined as a collection of values, ideas, personality, and history. It is a conglomerate of what you are saying about yourself. And for the customer, it is their reaction to you. Branding often invokes an emotional response – the basic “how do you feel about us when you think of us?”
Branding at its peak is when people associate YOUR NAME with the product itself. When you have a cold, how many people say, “pass me a kleenex please.” Kleenex is a BRAND of tissue, but its name has become synonymous with the product that solves a problem. In the south, we do this thing that drives all you others crazy. In Texas, you’ll often hear the pizza joint say, “your large pizza comes with a free 2-liter of Coke?” at which time the responder clarifies, “and what kind of Coke would like you?” (people then say “Diet Coke” or “Dr Pepper” or “Sprite”) We don’t even understand what you northerners are talking about when you say you want some “pop.” Sorry.
So until your customers EQUATE your business name with THE SOLUTION to their problem, we work simultaneously on the second part of the Marketing equation.
CUSTOMER ACTION. Too many small businesses spend alot of money on advertising, PR, and other so-called “marketing efforts” in order to get consumers to pick them over the competition. However, typically their marketing efforts are no more than just branding. They talk about themselves, their values, their priorities, and hope that the customer feels good about their business when it comes time for a purchasing decision. This is what Super Bowl ads are doing primarily – spending alot of money on nothing but shaping the customer’s perception of their brand name. But in a highly competitive environment, you often have to do more than just BRANDING when you want to entice/lure/pull your customer like a magnet into a transaction. Branding efforts have hopefully laid a strong foundation but it often takes a fresh and systematic approach to actually know how to get a customer to choose you.
These two elements are not mutually exclusive. In the Duct Tape Marketing definition of marketing, John Jantsch (creator and founder of Duct Tape Marketing) says marketing is:
“Getting people with a specific need or problem to KNOW, LIKE and TRUST you.”
If you think about this as a relationship, KNOW is like information-gathering and studying the facts about you. Customers then try you out and have a positive experience with you which improves your LIKABILITY. But repeated experiences that are repeatedly exceptional builds a TRUST relationship that ensures longevity and loyalty.
Branding is the promotion of who you are and what’s important to you. It’s a long-term strategy to compel your prospective customers into choosing you. There are many things you can do as well to invoke CUSTOMER ACTION, the consumer’s response and eventual transaction. If all we do is focus on CUSTOMER ACTION, we are often wasting our breath (imagine the door-to-door guy standing there trying to force you to purchase something without any knowledge of his company – you’re pretty much ready to close the door in his face – there’s no relationship between the two of you).
As well, if all we are doing is branding, we are immature in our marketing sense and somewhat “arrogant” in our approach to the relationship with the potential customer. Imagine this scenario compared to Mr. Popular standing in the high school courtyard walking around talking about himself, but never inviting anyone to get to know him – just expecting all the girls to throw themselves at his feet. Our prospects are hovering around all the time, comparing us to our competitors. If all we are doing is talking about ourself, but never offering specific invitations to know/like/trust us, then we assume too much about ourselves (and too little respect for the customer) and we will no doubt miss the sale.
So the two work in tandem. Branding and Customer Action. Let’s talk a little in the next 4 posts about this concept of branding. How we can use a comprehensive branding strategy that is sure to foster an environment with our prospective customers so that when they find themselves in NEED of your services, there’s no question who they will pick.
In part 2, we’ll examine the 9 parts of an effective branding strategy.
In part 3, we’ll look at the first 3 parts that lay the foundation for your branding strategy.
In part 4, we’ll take a peak into the specific ways of branding ourselves (including online and offline strategies).
Finally, in part 5, we’ll examine how to maintain the branding strategy and keep your brand fresh on the minds of your prospects!
-The Marketing Twins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
p.s. Don’t forget to register for our next FREE Double Take LIVE Broadcast with Sheila McDoniel. The call is only one week away and we’ll be making an exciting announcement on that call regarding a future interview we have planned so you don’t want to miss out!!